How I Healed From A 6-Year Illness By Changing My Diet
In January of 2008, I had been sick for six years and had to cancel my birthday lunch because I couldn’t sit up that long. A year later, I threw a party for dozens of friends and danced until midnight. How did I go from canceling lunch to tripping the light fantastic?
Raw foods and loving relationships — but not necessarily in that order.
I got sick in the fall of 2002, when I was 33 and pregnant with my second son. I came down with what felt like the flu, and then spent most of the next six years bedridden with vertigo, fevers, aches, intense fatigue, and a constant rotation of respiratory illnesses. My diagnoses included Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, chronic Lyme disease, and an unknown autoimmune disorder.
Radically changing my eating habits was emotionally and logistically very difficult.
I tried every conventional or alternative treatment under the sun: hormones, antibiotics, supplements, detoxifying diets, meditation, qigong, talk therapy, acupuncture, herbs, and more.
No matter what I did, I could barely function. In January of 2008, two doctors suggested that I treat my chronic Lyme disease with an antibiotic, an anti-parasite drug, and an anti-malarial drug that might leave me with multiple side effects and take years to work. I declined and realized I needed to change my approach.
I decided that I was going to do whatever it took to find people who had totally healed from symptoms similar to mine and then do what they had done to heal myself.
That search led me to a raw vegan diet. In fact, a raw food diet had been recommended to me in the first year of my illness, but I had written it off as too difficult and extreme.
How did the raw food diet go from being “too extreme” to a viable option for me? The answer is loving support.
After years of going to doctors’ appointments alone and trying not to burden my family or friends with my illness, I finally began accepting help. I asked my husband to come to medical appointments with me. I invited my mother-in-law to an appointment with a Lyme specialist. I spoke more openly about my struggles with friends and accepted help with food preparation, grocery shopping, and picking my children up from school.
Radically changing my eating habits was emotionally and logistically very difficult. Having the support of family and friends let me know that I was not alone and that I could take on the challenge. In the end, many of my family members and friends wound up altering their diets and getting healthier after seeing my results. Rather than burden them by asking for help, I was privileged to lead many of them to better health and fuller lives.
Below are the basics of the raw food diet that I followed for two years. I felt much better in just a month and was back to better health than I had ever experienced in my life within a year. I still eat mainly raw and vegan and I feel great.
I understand a raw vegan diet to be healing because it's a powerful anti-inflammatory diet that supports the immune system. I mainly believe in its power because of what it accomplished in my own life and in the lives of many others I have met.
Here are some of the raw foods that helped heal me:
- Hearty salads with a variety of colors, greens, and great dressings
- Sandwich wraps in leaves of chard or collards
- Rice-less sushi rolls filled with patés, guacamole, sprouts, veggies. and wrapped in nori
- Veggies with dips like raw hummus, walnut paté, pesto, or guacamole
- Sea vegetables like wakame, arame, and hijiki
- Sprouts, especially sunflower seed, snow pea, and broccoli
- Sprouted beans like mung, adzuki, and lentil; in salads or blended into patés with spices
- Limited grains (quinoa, millet, and amaranth) and steamed vegetables or baked yams
- Healthy fats like nuts or avocados a few times per week
- 2 ounces of wheatgrass twice a day
- 16 to 20 ounces of juice made of cucumbers, celery, and sunflower or snow pea sprouts, twice a day
- No wheat, meat, dairy, or sweetener of any kind, including fruit
Technically, the raw food diet is what healed me, but I never could have taken it on without immense support from family and friends. When I work with new health coaching clients, the first thing I suggest is that they explore where they can get more emotional and logistical support to do the hard work of change and healing ahead of them.
Everyone has their own path to health. Raw foods was mine. How could you get more support to find yours?
Check out my book Everyday Healing: Stand Up, Take Charge, and Get Your Health Back...One Day at a Time for more on how you can start your own healing journey.
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